‘Down’s children are not a burden on anybody’

Most parents who find out their child will have Down’s syndrome are expected to have an abortion, the creator of an app for disabled children has said.

Colin Dean, co-founder of Special iApps – which helps children with a range of disabilities – says his son William, who was born with Down’s, has transformed his family’s lives.

Dean was speaking in response to the BBC 2 documentary ‘A World Without Down’s Syndrome?’ presented by actress and mother Sally Phillips.

’No burden’

He told BBC Newcastle: “One of my colleagues – who also has a little girl with Down’s syndrome – she was phoned repeatedly, requesting her to book the appointment for the termination, when she’d already said she didn’t want to do that”.

He added that many Down’s children have happy lives and are “not a burden on anybody”.

Noting that the legal limit for abortions is normally 24 weeks, he added: “But if a child has what’s viewed as a disability, which Down’s syndrome is included in – although it’s not included for many people – you can terminate at any time during pregnancy, and in the Netherlands you can terminate after they are born.”

‘Deeply disturbing’

Interviewer Anna Foster of BBC Newcastle called the information “deeply disturbing”.

In 2005 the controversial “Groningen Protocol” was published allowing the infanticide of severely disabled babies in the Netherlands. According to Professor Eduard Verhagen, who wrote the protocol, 15 to 20 newborns are killed each year.

Last year, the European Institute of Bioethics quoted a report in The Lancet medical journal from 2000 which stated that 47% of surveyed neonatal doctors in the Netherlands anonymously admitted to having administered drugs to deliberately end the life of a newborn.

Sally Phillips

Last week a documentary on Down’s syndrome presented by actress Sally Phillips highlighted a controversial screening test expected to lead to an increase in abortions of babies diagnosed with Down’s.

Phillips, whose son Olly has the condition, asked: “What kind of society do we want to live in, and who do we think should be allowed to live in it?”

Also appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze, she said that the very existence of screening “underlines the idea that people with Down’s syndrome are optional and inferior”.


One of the contributors weighing evidence on the issue for the programme was Melanie Phillips of The Times.

She said: “This idea that the unborn child has no rights, no interests to be taken into consideration, I find quite a brutalising attitude”.

Listen to the full clip below.

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